Learning from the Baduys

I used to travel a lot with my family on those happy days with my parents, like over ten years ago. However, I always think of myself as being princess-ey. Raised as the only daughter in the family, my mom showered me everything, I had such an easy life. Until the day mom’s gone, and things went south, I sort of learned and knew how to survive the hard life.


Little girls are playing in a hut at the village outside Baduy area.

My first time backpacking was with a friend to Pangandaran. Yet, nothing crossed my mind that I will survive anything worse. I had been wanting to go to Baduy village since a friend at the Globe asked everyone on Facebook if anyone to come with her. But back then it was super expensive, it was more than a million rupiah for a weekend, and I had no idea at all of how much the trip would cost.

I then spotted an ad in Groupon for a trip to Baduy village, for 270,000 rupiahs which is about 25 USD. So I think to myself, maybe this is it. The fact that I have been traveling with the beau for the last one year, I think I need a break for myself and travel with friends. So I asked colleague-cum-friend Ms. Made, then she asked her other two friends to join with us.


Made and me. Photo by Ramda Yanurzha.

Never did I know that this trip will be done in such big group. The tour we go with managed to get 60 people to join. I thought to myself, “This is gonna be hell-ish.” Then off we went, on 13th September we met everyone at 7 am at Tanah Abang Station to catch the 8 o’clock train. There I met and befriended Keni and Ramda, two of Made’s friends who instantly became my travel-mate.


Our train ride.

The village of Baduy people, Kanekes, is located in about 125 km from Jakarta. Two hours train, two hours in an AC-less minivan, and a four-hour trek.


Our feckin van. 

The train journey was fine, nothing unusual but our starved-tummy. The walk to reach Kanekes village was not easy, but there were two elderly women in my group. I thought to myself, if they found this walk manageable, then I should do too. There were a few rickety bamboo bridges, and a river to cross. Those bridges scared the hell out of me. I know that I am not that heavy but still, I am heavier than most people in there, aaaaand… I can’t swim.


Photo courtesy of: worldmapz

Baduy people are divided into the Outer Baduy (Baduy Luar) and Inner Baduy (Baduy Dalam). Inner Baduy people do not allow any forms of modernisation in their village, no phones, no cameras, no electricity, no bathroom, no soaps, shampoos or toothpaste are allowed. It was a dreadful thought to stay in a place like that, but I personally quite enjoyed it.


A group of Baduy people who picked us up at the start of the trek. Inner Baduy are wearing white headscarf and Outer Baduy (not in photo) are wearing black and blue scarf.

We stayed in the local people’s house. Every house in Baduy is built by bamboo surrounded by bamboo webbing walls. Do not expect cushion-ey place to sleep at night, I literally slept on the bamboo floor. The biggest challenge for me was not the sleeping part though, but know when and where to take a shower and use the river for a toilet. Since technology are not allowed so I can’t give you any pictures from the Inner Baduy. However, this is the house of Outer Baduy, which is similar to where we stayed:


Baduy people’s closest resemblance is to Sundanese, and they strongly hold their traditional custom. When you go on a date, you can’t be with your lover alone there has to be a third person. I found this quite funny. Most of Baduy people’s house are divide into a living-family room and a small kitchen at the back. We did wonder how could you be lovey dovey to your spouse when you live in a house with no privacy. Our travel-mate, Annisa asked the question directly and the answer was brilliant.

“On the first night they got married, they will go to the hut in the farm,” yeaaaah..right. By looking at the number of children in the village, they must find it challenging ha.

Spending one night in the village was surely not enough but they only allow us to stay for a night. Going back home was more tiring since the walk involve a few hikes, and the heat was unbelievable. I was so brown. We passed three Outer Baduy villages, and we found women weaving threads, and making scarfs. Baduy people are making woven fabric, noken bag, and wild honey for souvenirs. The weaving reminded me a bit of the woven village in Mai Chau, Vietnam.

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A woman is selling scarfs to passing by tourists in Outer Baduy viilage. (top) Colorful scarves are sold from Rp 40,000 to Rp 50,000. A full fabric could cost up to Rp 300,000. (bottom)

My trip to Baduy taught me to have an open-mind. When you go travel somewhere, you have to go with an open-mind because whatever you see and you experience on your travel might not always be the same as what you expected. In here, I also learned how to respect the nature. The simplicity of living in the nature taught me that there are so many other things in life that can make you happy. The people you love and the nature’s gift for you…as simple as that.


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